After Ta’Kiya Young shooting: What will it take to stop racist police terror?

Protesters in Columbus, Ohio, demand justice for Ta’Kiya Young.

Police in Ohio released bodycam footage of 21-year-old Ta’Kiya Young on Sept. 1, seven days after she was fatally shot by police on Aug. 24. Young, a pregnant mother of two, was killed while inside her car outside a grocery store in the suburbs of Columbus.

Officers who were at the scene for another reason responded to allegations from a store employee that multiple people, including Young, were fleeing the store with stolen items.

The bodycam video begins with one officer telling Young to get out of the car. A second officer, with gun drawn, moved in front of the vehicle. Both officers were yelling, demanding Young get out of the car. Young refused. 

The car began moving, the video went dark, and the officer in front of the car fired one shot into the windshield. Within 15 seconds, She was dead.  

The Associated Press spoke with Sean Walton, an attorney representing the family of Ta’Kiya Young. Walton said his firm found a witness who saw Young put down bottles of alcohol as she left the store. So Young was right in saying she committed no crime when she refused to get out of the car.

Police Chief John Belford called the shooting a tragedy, but refused to release the names, race, or rank of the two cops. The officer who killed Young is on paid administrative leave, and the second has already returned to active duty.

AP reports that “Young’s death is one of numerous deaths of Black adults and children at the hands of the police across the nation that have drawn protests and demands for more accountability.” The report listed the most prominent cases in Ohio – 20-year-old Donovan Lewis, 16-year-old Ma’Khai Bryant, 23-year-old Casey Goodson, Jr. – as well as George Floyd in Minneapolis.

In fact, the list is endless, because the police continue to shoot first and check the facts later, without being held accountable. 

Litany of racist terror

Here are a few more incidents that involve shootings, senseless murders and frame-ups by the police:

Jan. 4, 2008: Tarika Wilson, a 26-year-old mother of six, was fatally shot by an Ohio police officer during a raid on her home targeting her boyfriend. Wison was unarmed and hiding in her bedroom with her children when one of the officers fired blindly, killing her instantly and injuring the one-year-old baby she had in her arms. The cop was acquitted of criminal charges and returned to the force. Two years later the city of Lima settled a wrongful death lawsuit with Wilson’s family for $2.5 million.

Nov. 19, 2011: Police in White Plains, New York, shot and killed 68-year-old Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., a veteran suffering from bipolar illness and a heart condition. Chamberlain accidentally triggered a medical alert device. Police were the first to arrive at the scene. What started as a welfare check became a standoff that lasted for over an hour, with police demanding Chamberlain open the door. It ended with police breaking into his home. He was then tased, shot with a bean bag shotgun, and with live ammunition. Police claimed he came at them with a knife. 

Chamberlain repeatedly told the police that he was okay and didn’t need or want them to come in. The officers were never charged criminally, and the Justice Department declined to file civil rights charges. The family of Kenneth Chamberlain sued the Justice Department. Twelve years later, in 2023, White Plains agreed to pay the family $5 million, the largest settlement in the city’s history. Kenneth Chamberlain Jr. said about monetary compensation, “No way should it be considered a substitute for justice and accountability in these types of issues.” 

Sept. 28, 2012: A U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent shot 32-year-old Valeria Tachiquin in San Diego. Border Patrol agents were serving a felony warrant in the area when Tachiquin allegedly tried to run over an agent with her car. The agent was on the hood of the car before he fired his weapon through the windshield. Tachiquin was shot in the middle of the street in a residential area. Witnesses in the area saw Tachiquin slowly driving in reverse as the agent opened fire, shooting his gun at least 10 times.

Oct. 3, 2013: In Washington, D.C., Mariam Carey, a 34-year-old Black woman, was shot and killed by police after attempting to drive through a White House security checkpoint. She was chased by the Secret Service to the U.S. Capitol, where she was shot five times in the back. Carey’s one-year-old daughter was physically unharmed in the back seat of the car, but witnessed her mother’s brutal death. 

Feb. 16, 2023: Porcha Woodruff, a 32-year-old Black woman, eight months pregnant, was preparing her two children for school when six Detroit police officers showed up at her door with an arrest warrant for robbery and carjacking. Woodruff told police that she did not rob or carjack anyone, but cooperated with the police and was handcuffed and arrested in front of her children, who were crying as she was taken away into custody.

Woodruff was misidentified by the city’s facial recognition technology. She filed a lawsuit against the Detroit Police Department hoping this will change how police used the technology to ensure “this doesn’t happen to someone else.”

Protect and serve?

If the U.S. criminal justice system really wanted to change how the police relate to the people they are supposedly hired to “protect and serve,” it would listen to what the people say and hold the police accountable for what they do. 

Let the people in our communities control who “protects and serves” them!

The people have been demanding an immediate end to police brutality and murder for decades. Ending police brutality was number seven on the Black Panther Party’s 10-point program in 1966. 

The BPP believed ending police brutality can be achieved “by organizing Black self-defense groups that are dedicated to defending our Black community from racist police oppression and brutality.”

Today, people in cities across the U.S. are voicing their concerns and demanding community control of the police, defunding the police, and abolishing the police. The criminal justice system is saying “NO” to all these demands as police terror continues to rise. Instead it pushes forward with toothless reforms that include body cameras, “independent” investigations, civilian review boards, and de-escalation.

Until we mobilize and work together towards a new society, we will continue to go back and forth with this capitalist system that values profits over people.

We know the solution, the only solution, is a socialist revolution.

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